Shimron Hetmyer did what he does best, hitting the make-or-break final ball of the match against the MI Emirates out of the park to clinch a thrilling five-wicket win for the Gulf Giants in the DP World ILT20 on Wednesday.
Chasing just 140 for their fifth win in the tournament, the Giants found strong resistance from the MI who threw everything at them in a desperate attempt to defend their low total at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Needing 11 off the final over from Jordan Thomson after a flurry of wickets brought the Emirates back into the contest, the Giants struggled as Jordan was excellent in the first five balls, giving away just eight runs.
With the Giants still requiring three runs off the final ball, Jordan made the first big mistake of attempting a yorker at the dangerous Hetmyer.
The final ball was a harmless full toss and Hetmyer (13 off 8 balls), who was struggling for his timing until then, found the sweet spot of his bat and sent it over the deep-midwicket boundary, earning his team a place in the playoffs.
The Giants were comfortably placed at one stage with Tom Banton (45, 39 balls, 5 fours, 1 six), captain James Vince (26 off 25 balls), Chris Lynn (28 off 26 balls) and Namibian Gerhard Erasmus (20 off 16 balls) making good contributions with the bat.
But the Emirates fought back in the back end of the innings, taking three wickets in the space of 11 balls.
In the end, Hetmyer rose to the challenge as the Giants became the second team to qualify for the playoffs after the Desert Vipers.
Earlier, the Gulf Giants bowlers came up with a superb effort to restrict the MI Emirates to a modest score.
West Indies pacer Dominic Drakes (4-0-21-2), England star Chris Jordan (3.5-1-12-3) and Namibian all-rounder David Weise (4-0-12-2) never allowed the MI Emirates batters to find their top gear and kept getting wickets at regular intervals.
After being put into bat, the MI Emirates suffered an early blow when opener Andrew Fletcher (4) was ruled lbw off Drakes in the second ball of the innings.
That was not the start the Emirates had hoped for in the crucial game, but Fletcher’s dismissal brought a local player in the middle.
Basil Hameed (9), had a great chance to show his skills at number three as he joined Muhammad Waseem, his UAE teammate.
But Hameed, the Kerala-born all-rounder, failed to convert his start as his pull shot off Weise fell in the safe hands of Chris Lynn at short fine leg.
Waseem (29 off 27 balls, 2 fours, 2 sixes), fresh from his match-winning knock of 86 off 44 balls in the previous game against the Desert Vipers, found a reliable partner in Nicholas Pooran (42, 29 balls, 3 fours, 3 sixes).
The two batters started to rebuild the innings, but Jordan castled Waseem in the 13th over to end what was a highly impressive 61-run partnership for the third wicket.
The Mil Emirates never recovered from that blow as the Giants tightened the screw, stopping the flow of runs.
Such was the Giants dominance that the Emirates collapsed from 88 for three in the 12th over to an under par total of 139 all out in 19.5 overs.
News source: Khaleej Times